Richard Branson Amongst Protesters Against Nigerian Anti-Gay Bill

The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill that would make it a punishable offense of up to 14 years in prison for anybody to go to a gay bar, to work for or be involved with LGBT organizations, or to be in an openly gay relationship.

Anyone who doesn’t report men or women living together — a ‘gay marriage’ in this bill — would also be punished. The bill (read a copy) appears to punish anyone supporting LGBT human rights, or even writing about gay people.

After passage through the Senate, the bill goes through the House of Representatives before requiring the President’s signature.

“Stop turning us into refugees,” Ifeanyi Orazulike, Director of the International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) said at Monday’s rally.

Instead of passing anti-gay laws, Nigeria needs to focus on repealing its sodomy laws, laws that were originally imposed by British colonialism.

The Consul-General of Nigeria to the UN, Mr Habib Habu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was told that the protesters came around and left after a while without demanding to present their grievances to anyone.

“I learnt it’s like people making a brief stop-over for a while. If they had requested for me, I would have received them,” he said.

The bill has been publicly criticized by the businessman Richard Branson.

“All of us with influence in Nigeria must do what we can to stop this cruel law. I would urge educated Nigerians all over the world to do what they can to help fight this discrimination,” he wrote.

The small protests, as well as online petitions, have generated substantial media coverage in Nigeria.

BBC News also carried this video interview with Queer Alliance activist Rashidi Williams, who was one of the activists shouted down at the Nigerian Senate hearing last month.

An ongoing theme of the reports is the impact of the bill in generating refugees if it becomes law.

Speaking to This Day Live, bisexual Nigerian diaspora activist Yemisi Ilesanmi said:

Criminalising same sex relationships makes us refugees; it turns us into asylum seekers in other countries. This also affects our beloved country as emigration causes brain drain.

Many talented Nigerians are living in Diaspora openly as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals. We contribute positively to the development of our country of residence but we are afraid to come live and contribute to the development of our motherland because of fear of  victimisation. We visit home with trepidation because at home we have to live a life full of lies and deny who we are for us to be accepted.  Why do we want to keep subjecting our citizens to such psychological and emotional torture?

Some Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Intersex living in Diaspora are married to same sex partners or planning to do so. Section 1(3) of this bill states that a valid same sex marriage entered into abroad would not be valid in Nigeria. This is unfair.

We as Nigerian LGBTIs living in Diaspora do not want to be isolated from our family members and childhood friends. Many of us grew up in Nigeria and are happy to call Nigeria our motherland. However, because of the misconception surrounding our sexual orientation, and the criminalisation of thereof, we are estranged from our loved ones. Families have been broken, friendship links cut off and hate fostered – all because of ignorance and misunderstanding.

Many Africans became intolerant of homosexuality and transsexuals only after foreign religions were imposed on them. In many African cultures, homosexuals and transsexuals were revered and worshipped as spirits of the gods. Sango, the god of thunder was often described as a beautiful man who dressed and accessorised and had his hair braided like a woman. Sango priests, all men, dress in women apparels when performing traditional rituals. Now tell me that is un-African!

I am Proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of “promoting and defending European sexual perversity” (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on Ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homosexual sex, affection and love and that was one reason Christian missionary colonisers immediately imported their sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported homophobia because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians!

Many claim Homosexuality is Alien to Africa. I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on European shore, so does that mean I am a fake African?

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Picture by Joseph Huff-Hannon


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

I can't just leave this issue alone after reading some of the comments here.
First, Yinka O. Are you for real? Or have you watched too many episodes of "Smallville"? I guess you only joined Care2 to get a megaphone for your odd ideas of humanity.
And, Afeezy A. I suppose we can empty out all african nations of their LGBT citizens and let you return to whatever was in your countries before civilization hit. No doctors. No teachers. No lawyers. No artists. No comedians. No athletes. No builders. No nothing. Because, LGBT comes in all sorts of professions and provide and promote progress together with others. Any country that promote discrimination and lack equality, have less prosperity and more poverty.
I would gladly embrace and welcome LGBT refugees in any country I live in, but I would prefer them to be able to live without fear in the country they were born in, where they have their roots and families and friends. This is a wish I have for everyone in the world that are forced to leave their birth countries.
I salute Richard Branson for his stand on this issue of human rights and hope there are many more that will join him!

Alan G.
Alan G6 years ago

The comments on here are disturbing, hate has found a home in the hearts of even some of our Care2 brothers and sisters.

Arild Warud

Good on you Richard Branson.

Penny C.
penny C6 years ago

good for him.

Yinka O.
Yinka O.6 years ago

It is absolutely crazy for a MAN to be attracted to a MAN, or a WOMAN to a WOMAN. It is unnatural; male dogs don't get attracted to male dogs. Even cocks, as horny as they are, never look for other cocks. Some humans however, who were exposed to CRYPTONITE during the last METEOR SHOWER, had their minds twisted, and now they give birth to children who are only attracted to people of the same sex with them. RUBBISH!

Yinka O.
Yinka O.6 years ago

Jane, Hilary Clinton should ensure the US do away with polygamy laws before asking other countries to do away with homosexual laws!!!

Jane H.
Jane H6 years ago

I am very grateful this man is speaking up and wants to do away with the sodomy law. I am hoing Hillary Clinton's speech tying US aid to foreign countiresbeing based on gay human rights will help. She said gay human right are human rights. We should start a petition to thank her.

Yinka O.
Yinka O.6 years ago

You're on point Afeezy. Thumbs up!!!

Afeezy A.
Afeezy A.6 years ago

My Brother live in Europe, and would like to marry 2 wives but the law there prohibits it. He like many others feel bad because they have been denied there heart desire. This to me against their human right......let Europe and America pass a law to to favor my culture in their own country den dey can come back and discuss this silly "gay rights" thing.

Branson should mind his business, and keep his mouth off how we Nigerians choose to live our lives. Europe should grant assylum to all Nigerian guys, if they dont like our law. We would rather be poor, uncivilized, "unconteporary" than to promote homosexuality.

You all dont like it; go jump off the sky scrapper............

Yinka O.
Yinka O.6 years ago

Robert, so you think by encouraging homosexuality, Nigeria will become an accepting, contemporary, open-minded, and progressive country?

Well then, let's hope that in the near future, all the accepting, contemporary, open-minded, and progressive countries of the world will encourage their citizens to marry dogs, cats, and horses. It's all part of progress, isn't it?